Why every Rwandan should be proud of our electoral system

Transparency and accountability are key indicators of good leadership. Accountability is one of the three major choices Rwanda has made in the effort to rebuild the country after the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994.

Those major choices are; unity, accountability and thinking big.

Thanks to both good choices and implementation strategies, Rwanda has achieved sustainable peace and development, inclusive governance and women empowerment.

The country, once in isolation, has now become a place worth living in, with equal rights and equal opportunities.

As Rwandans are set to elect their next President, the National Electoral Commission received and scrutinised six files for aspiring presidential candidates.

The applicants included Paul Kagame (the incumbent) representing the RPF Inkotanyi; Frank Habineza representing the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and four independent aspirants namely; Philippe Mpayimana, Diane Nshimyimana Rwigara, Gilbert Mwenedata and Fred Barafinda Sekikubo.

The electoral commission rejected three of the six candidates after they failed to meet the minimum standards.

There were at least two things in common to those that were not approved; missing required signatures and accountability deficiencies.

Accountability is about doing well what you have to do; listen more to what others are criticising about you in order to make necessary adjustments.

As Rwandans, we deserve good leaders, who are committed to deliver and to be held accountable. Only such leaders can take us to sustainable development, peace and prosperity.

As the saying goes, “charity begins at home”. Independent candidates were required to get at least six hundred signatures, including from at least twelve eligible voters from every district across the country.

The rationale behind this requirement is that; in order to be able to lead all Rwandans, you need a certain “constituency” in all parts of the country.

And, to be honest, six hundred voters is a very small number for a presidential aspirant, someone who intends to lead about twelve million Rwandans, in addition to those in the Diaspora.

When the National Electoral Commission announced the final list of the approved presidential candidates, I was not only surprised, but also disappointed. Not too much negatively, at least.

I am happy that Rwanda has become a democratic country, where everyone can exercise freely their constitutional rights, without any socioeconomic restrictions, including vying any of the leadership positions, up to the highest one.

We went through decades of maladministration where every leadership position was given not based on personal competencies, but a result of nepotism and patronage.

I am again happy that the National Electoral Commission was accountable to the public, especially all Rwandans, at every step of this heavy but noble task.

When the final list of the approved candidates was announced, the commission encouraged whoever was not satisfied to appeal to competent organs.

Finally, I was disappointed by aspiring presidential candidates who submitted forged documents and incomplete files.

However, I was happy that the National Electoral Commission detected and identified all missing elements, irregularities and forgeries in the aspirants’ files.

Some of tem had submitted signatures of dead Rwandans. We all wonder how the dead and buried can sign for an aspiring presidential candidate.

Rwandans don’t deserve a President ‘picked’ by the dead. Thanks to the Electoral Commission for having been diligent enough to unearth the anomaly.

At this point, all Rwandans, including the aspirants whose files were rejected or their supporters, they can all be happy they have a responsible and accountable electoral commission.

The writer is a Political Analyst and Member of the Pan-African Movement Rwanda Chapter.

Twitter @NLadislas